Lemonade, Lightened Up

There's nothing better than than an icy glass of lemonade on a hot day, but who needs all those extra calories from added sweeteners? Instead of turning to sugary, packaged mixes, make your own light and fresh versions. Here are our tricks.
House Number 0065737F3

House Number 0065737F3

Elixir G Minty Lemonade. Guy Fieri Guy's Big Bite GI-0513

There's nothing better than than an icy glass of lemonade on a hot day, but who needs all those extra calories from added sweeteners? Instead of turning to sugary, packaged mixes, make your own light and fresh versions. Here are our tricks.

Citrus Squeeze

A glass of sweetened lemonade (typically 8 ounces) that comes from a mix or carton has about 120 calories and about 7 teaspoons of sugar. When I checked out the options at my local grocery store, I found most are sweetened with tons of sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, while the low-calorie version are drowning in artificial sweeteners.

Go for the real deal -- lemons, a small amount of sugar and water are all you need. Not only do you skip the preservatives and processed ingredients, but fresh lemon juice has a hefty dose of vitamin C and some potassium. Stick with fresh lemon (pass on the bottled stuff) -- it's a little more time consuming to do the squeezing, but you'll taste the difference. An average lemon yields about 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) depending on the size. Use a juicer or a handy reamer to get every last drop.

A Sprinkle of Sweetness

When you make your own, you can control the amount of sweetener -- and sugar’s not your only option. If sugar is your top choice, opt for the superfine variety, which dissolves into drinks better, or make a simple syrup. This way the sweetness distributes evenly in every glass -- no watery lemonade at the top of your pitcher and inches of sugar sinking to the bottom. You can also infuse your simple syrup with herbs like mint, basil, or orange peel for some extra (calorie-free) flavor.

Honey and agave nectar are some other sugar alternatives to try. Some of these sweeteners are actually sweeter than sugar, so you'll most likely need to use less. Start by swapping half the recommended amount of sugar (for example, if the recipes calls for 1 cup of sugar, then use no more than 1/2 cup of agave nectar). Then let your taste buds decide -- you can always add it a bit more. Since most of the calories in lemonade come from sweeteners, keep portions to a few teaspoons per person max.

Adding a splash of fresh fruit juice is my favorite way to add sweetness -- not to mention it boosts vitamins and antioxidants and gives your drink a dash of color and a bit more zing. I found this Food Network Magazine recipe that mixes mashed fresh strawberries, guava juice and lemon juice to make an interesting combo.

And then, of course, there's always the “ Arnold Palmer,” which is when you mix your lemonade with some iced tea.

    Lemonade recipes to try:
TELL US: Do you like your lemonade straight or pepped up with other flavors?
Keep Reading

Next Up

Cupcakes, Lightened Up

They may come in pretty little packages, but cupcake calories can get ugly! Here are some lighter ways to enjoy these tasty pastries.

Cheesecake, Lightened Up

Velvety smooth, sweet and creamy, but with more than 600 calories and 45 grams of fat per slice, can it be part of a healthy diet? Here’s how you can have your (cheese)cake and eat it too!

Strawberry Daiquiris, Lightened Up

Most recipes are cloyingly sweet and filled with booze – lighten up this classic summer cocktail.

Chowders, Lightened Up

As deliciously comforting as a warm bowl of chowder can be, all the fat and calories can wreak havoc on your waistline. A few simple swaps and you can slurp this savory soup with delight.

Potato Salad, Lightened Up

I’m just starting to see early varieties of potatoes at the farmers market and potato salad recipes are calling out to me! This picnic and barbecue fave is known to be heavy on the fat and calories, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are my favorite ways to lighten up this summertime classic.

Apple Pie, Lightened Up

With apple season here and the holidays fast approaching, it’s hard not to crave homemade apple pie, but all the fat and calories can help pack on the pounds over winter. How about some lighter options, like an apple galette?

Steak, Lightened Up

Cook up the perfect steak for Dad this Father’s Day. With a few small tweaks and ingredient swaps, Dad can enjoy his juicy steak while the rest of family can breathe easy that Dad won’t have a coronary.

Eggs Benedict, Lightened Up

Eggs Benedict is my all time favorite breakfast, but it can be a bit heavy. Here’s a traditional recipe with a few healthy twists.

Eggplant Parmesan, Lightened Up

Growing up in an Italian family, eggplant “parm” was a staple in my house. While it was cheesy, fried and delicious, nowadays I’d rather cut back on some of the calories and fat with these tips and delicious recipes.

Nachos, Lightened Up

Every so often I get a big time craving for spicy, cheesy and crunchy nachos. But when most restaurant orders top 1500 calories and 100 grams of fat, I’d much rather make them myself. Use these tips to indulge wisely.

On TV

The Pioneer Woman

9:30am | 8:30c

Cupcake Wars

10am | 9c

Cake Wars

11am | 10c

Cake Wars

12pm | 11c

The Pioneer Woman

1:30pm | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30pm | 1:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

3:30pm | 2:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

4:30pm | 3:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

5:30pm | 4:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

6:30pm | 5:30c

Chopped

7pm | 6c
On Tonight
On Tonight

Chopped

9pm | 8c

Beat Bobby Flay

10:30pm | 9:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

11:30pm | 10:30c

Chopped

12am | 11c

Beat Bobby Flay

1:30am | 12:30c

Beat Bobby Flay

2:30am | 1:30c

Mystery Diners

4:30am | 3:30c

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.